Background

Individuals who successfully maintain weight loss engage in high amounts of physical activity (PA). However, it is unclear how weight loss maintainers are able to achieve these high levels of PA. Understanding how successful weight loss maintainers accumulate their PA across the 24h day may inform future behavioral strategies for increasing PA.

Methods

We compared temporal patterns of PA in long-term weight loss maintainers (WLM, n=30, maintaining ≥13.6 kg weight loss for ≥1 year, BMI 23.7±2.2 kg/m2, mean±SD), normal weight controls (NC, n=29, BMI matched to current BMI of WLM, BMI 22.7±2.0 kg/m2), and controls with overweight/obesity (OC, n=21, BMI matched to pre-weight loss BMI of WLM, 32.9±4.7 kg/m2). WLM were maintaining weight loss for 9.9±10.3 years. PA was assessed during 7 consecutive days using the ActivPAL. PA patterns were assessed by quantifying mean steps during specific times of the day (>12 AM to 5 AM, >5 AM to 10 AM, >10 AM to 3 PM, >3 PM to 8 PM, and >8 PM to 12 AM. The current analysis was limited to weekdays because of differences in PA patterns on weekdays and weekend days.

Results

WLM engaged in significantly more total PA (11127±4047 steps/day) compared to NC (9170±4055 steps/day) and OC (7636±4046 steps/day) (p<0.0001). When patterns of stepping were examined, WLM also engaged in more steps between 5 AM and 10 AM (3539±1073) than NC (2059±1088), and OC (1508±1081), and between 3 PM to 8 PM (3479±1084, 2870±1088, 2530±1081, respectively) (p<0.01). There were no significant differences between groups during the other times assessed.

Conclusions

WLM engaged in more total daily PA and accrued more steps than both NC and OC between 5-10 AM and 3-8 PM, with the most pronounced difference in the morning. Future research should investigate whether targeting specific times of the day for increasing PA improves overall PA adherence and weight loss outcomes.